Taj Mahotsav, Agra
Trivia on Taj Mahotsav:
1. A minimal of 50 Rs is the entry fees for the festival with tickets available at entry gates.
2. No ticket is applicable for kids below five years and foreigners.
3. There is no separate ticket for Cultural programmes.
If the once Mughal capital Agra on the banks of River Yamuna is on your itinerary this year, make it around February 18th to 27th because that is when the artisans from across the country congregate to celebrate the City of Taj at ‘Taj Mahotsav’ every year.
I had been to this extravaganza a few years ago. The photographs are from my earlier visit. There might be new additions in the festival now.
Taj Mahotsav is a ten-day long cultural festival organised by Uttar Pradesh Tourism at Shilpagram near eastern gate of Taj MAhal, to showcase different art, crafts, cuisines, music and traditional dance forms. Started in 1992, this extravaganza is in its 27th year and each year sees a rising number of both national and international tourists. Every year the celebrations revolve around a theme, with this year being dedicated to ‘Dharohar’ or heritage.
A welcome folk dance presentation throws open the festival for the tourists. Special performances by likes of Rahet Fateh Ali Khan, Pankaj Udhas, Pandit Shiv Kumar Sharma, Sonu Nigam and more have been the highlights of previous cultural evenings in the ten-day festival.
While stalwarts enthrall the audience on specific shows, the grounds outside the auditorium have street shows by puppeteers, magicians and street dancers entertaining the crowd.
The greatest crowd-puller are the numerous stalls dedicated to craft from all over the country. More than 400 plus legendary craftsmen put up their wares for exhibition and sale. The festival becomes literally a carnival for shoppers.
Bargain is the magic word at these stalls and you can lay your hands on variety of items at throw away prices. The only thing required is oodles of patience and a keen eye to zero in on the object of your desire. I can spend hours at such places and have bought some unique pieces like carved, engraved and etched wooden photograph frames of various sizes, bed covers, cushion covers etc at cheap rates. True I had to rummage through the piles of items stacked at the stall but the trouble was worth it.
So you have wood and stone carvings from Karnataka that include sculptures, antique door frames and other decor items.
Zardosi embroidery and marble inlay work from Agra itself.
Various pottery articles including the popular Khurja pottery.
Linen, furnishing, Lucknow Chikan work, patch work bed spreads from Gujarat and Rajasthan, Kantha embroidery from Bengal, hand-woven carpets from Kashmir and Bhadohi, Benarasi silks.
There are hand-painted original ethnic Madhubani paintings as well.
Bamboo cane craft from North East, wood furniture from Saharanpur, Brass craft from Moradabad, artificial and dried flowers, papier-mâché and a gamut of handicrafts from other parts of country.
With a section of the area dedicated to food stalls, the ‘mahotsav’ is a food connoisseur’s delight. With cuisines from various parts of the country titillating the taste buds, one can not just walk away without digging into the delicacies on display here.
Fun Fair For Kids:
With kids around, shopping is a task. The festival caters for kids entertainment too and various rides, Ferris wheel, toy trains and roller coaster rides.
Agra Taj Mahotsav is a much awaited event every year not only because one gets to see all crafts and cultures at one place but also it is a complete family entertainment.
Other Facts and Information:
1. Agra has a lot to offer. Mughal seat of power has left some beautiful architecture in Taj Mahal (read about my love for Taj), Itmad-ud-Daula’s tomb (read my post on Baby Taj here), Agra fort, Sikandara Akbar’s masoleum and Fatehpur Sikri. Bharatpur Bird sanctuary or Keoladeo National Park, a UNESCO heritage site is close to Agra and bird watcher’s delight(read about my trip to this magnificent sanctuary here.) Recent additions in Agra tourism has been the introduction of Hot Air Balloon Rides over Taj Mahal.
2. “Kalakriti” is a cultural center and auditorium which has musical play on the love story of ShahJahan and his queen Mumtaz is performed every evening. There are eight languages to select in the earphones provided while watching the show. The best part of the play is when an 8 tonne Marble Taj Mahal emerges above from the floor. The play is a must do if you are in Agra.
3. Do not forget to buy leather bags, shoes and jackets from Agra.
4. The food street at Sadar Bazaar and Kinari Market in old Agra are not to be missed.
So head over to Agra this year and soak in this Mughal city.